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Aflac - Reputation/Brand Management Campaign

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Company: Aflac, Columbus, GA
Entry Submitted By: FleishmanHillard
Company Description: Aflac is a Fortune 500 company, providing financial protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For more than six decades, Aflac voluntary insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress.
Nomination Category: Communications & Marketing Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Reputation/Brand Management

Nomination Title: Aflac “Outducks” a Reputational Deficit

In up to 525 words, tell the judges about the nominated campaign: its genesis, development, planning, commission, and performance to date:

After 60 years in business, Aflac faced a reputational deficit. Despite perennial ranking on lists like Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies”, Aflac was not well-regarded for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Even after surpassing $110 million in donations to childhood cancer, an analysis by Reputation Institute (RI) revealed consumers thought Aflac was lacking in its CSR profile.

Darcy Brito, Aflac business PR manager, led a robust campaign establishing Aflac as an undeniable leader in CSR, elevated executives as thought-leaders, and sparked the ascension of the Aflac Duck from a marketing ploy to a symbol for social good.

Brito led execution of the following:

-Enlisted RI to research Aflac’s overall reputation as compared to RepTrak 100 companies, linking reputation with business drivers.
-Commissioned industry research through a CSR survey, revealing evidence that corporate ‘goodness’ is at an all-time high.
-Developed a comprehensive CSR Report describing activities within the four CSR pillars: ethics, workplace, philanthropy and sustainability. The theme “Everyone Has the Power to Do Good” spotlighted Aflac employees and independent sales agents who brought real-life understanding to CSR –in and outside of Aflac.
-Developed earned media and SMT campaigns to discuss implications of Aflac’s CSR Survey results positioning Chief Brand and Communications Officer Catherine Hernandez-Blades as a thought leader.

Additional tactics led by the communications team include:

-Coordinated unveiling of Aflac’s new philanthropic project: My Special Aflac Duck (MSAD), a smart robotic companion that helps children coping with cancer, at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
-Pitched embargoed MSAD opportunities, participated in pre-CES media events, arranged onsite satellite media tours.
-Created specially designed CES “soothe”-themed booth, aligning with the comfort concept.

Success of the CSR campaign was measured by an increase in Aflac’s RI score and CSR related media placements, including:

-Eight embargoed interviews and deskside briefings with national outlets, including The Associated Press, CBS, and the Wall Street Journal. Interviews conducted onsite yielded more than 1,000 earned stories and more than 2 billion impressions during CES.
-At CES, MSAD won: Innovation Award, Best in Robotics, Best of Show.
-Reports from RI show a 1.8 point increase in Aflac’s overall RepTrak Pulse score YOY (Q3 2016 – Q3 2017). Reports also show a 2.8 point increase in Aflac’s score from Q1 2018—Q2 2018 as a result of MSAD at CES.
-Secured over 200 million media impressions through executive interviews, including USA Today, Associated Press, Forbes, Yahoo!Finance, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, PRWeek and PR News.
-Aflac's Corporate Facebook page experienced considerable traffic boost in 2017 due to its CSR-focused strategy: 11.99% increase in page likes, 257% increase in average monthly engagement, 134% increase in average monthly reach, 169% increase in average monthly impressions.
-At the height of Aflac’s 2017 CSR campaign, Aflac U.S. experienced an all-time fourth quarter company record with a new annualized premium sales increase of 6.7% to $515 million. In 2017, total new sales were up 4.7% to $1.6 billion.
-Received Platinum SABRE Award for Best in Show and Silver Anvil Award based on Aflac's CSR campaign. Aflac also earned a coveted place on the Civic 50 list, distinguishing the company’s corporate citizenship above others.

Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the team that created and carried out the nominated communications campaign (up to 125 words):

Darcy Brito is business PR manager in Corporate Communications at Aflac. She plays a leadership position in planning and executing the FORTUNE 135 company’s external communication and media relations.

Brito joined Aflac in 2007 and has landed articles in USA Today, Fortune magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Forbes for senior and C-suite executives. Her placements helped create a new, powerful brand for several of Aflac’s key executives in the areas of insurance, diversity and mentoring.

Prior to joining Aflac, Brito was the PR director for JGR & Associates in Miami, Florida. Brito holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from Simmons College and a master’s of business administration in international business from the University of Miami.